Force rolls out new ‘Winnie Protocol’ to help locate missing adults
A new scheme to help locate missing adults more quickly is being rolled out across Northumbria.
Similar to the national Herbert Protocol – which was created to protect people with dementia or Alzheimer’s who go missing – it encourages carers and professionals to fill out a form designed to tell police more about an individual so officers have details to hand that could prove crucial during a search.
Northumbria Police teamed up with partners from the six Safeguarding Adult Boards across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear to develop the new scheme – known as the ‘Winnie Protocol’.
Inspector Lynne Colledge, of the force’s Safeguarding Department, who played a leading role in developing the protocol, said it was about police and safeguarding partners working together.
From depression to family disputes, and even exploitation, people go missing for many reasons, said Insp Colledge, who explained: “The Winnie Protocol introduces a simple and easy to fill out form, which will ask about the missing person’s medication needs, as well as contact details of close friends and family.
“Going a step further it will also ask about the individual’s interests and hobbies, routines, places where they frequently visit or places of special significance.
“This form is so important because it can give us a detailed history of the person, whether they have been missing before, where they were found and where they are likely to go.”
Insp Colledge added: “We already have a team of dedicated ‘missing from home’ (MFH) coordinators, whose job it is to explore the reasons behind why someone goes missing – focusing on prevention and limiting the times they go missing, by working with partners such as social workers and care professionals to identify support for the individuals.
“This new protocol will assist our MFH coordinators and our officers, who are on the ground searching, and will hopefully allow us to locate missing people faster so we can offer them the vital support they need.”
Gateshead Safeguarding Adults Board business manager Carole Paz-Uceira said: “The six Safeguarding Adult Boards within the Northumbria Police area welcome the opportunity to develop a consistent approach to how we work together to support adults who go missing.
“Adults go missing for many different reasons and may require the support from a wide variety of agencies including mental health, substance misuse, housing providers or social care.”
Northumbria Police said the new scheme was not a replacement of the Herbert Protocol, which will continue to be used.